31 July, 2009

Raw Gingerbread Men Recipe

Raw Gingerbread Men

From Karen Knowler, Raw Food Coach in England

Rawcookies It all began with a desire to replace my son's "healthy" (organic, no junk) gingerbread men with truly healthy ones just a couple of days ago. As my mind kicked in to try and figure out how this could be possible and with a little search on the web for traditional gingerbread men recipes, Luke and are were soon equipped with all we needed and raring to go to see what we could create. Fast forward to multiple Gingerbread Men all dehydrated and ready to be gobbled up: Success!

NB: This recipe doesn't have to be dehydrated to taste good or hold itself together, but for the crunch factor, yes, absolutely.

Makes 9 small Men.

* 1 cup of golden flax (linseed)
* 1 cup pecans
* 3 teaspoons powdered ginger
* 2 Tablespoons of dark agave syrup
* 1/8 cup of pure water


1) Mill the flax seed and pecans together into a fine flour. (This is best done in the Vita-Mix dry jug, or by using a coffee mill; a food processor won't get it fine enough on its own).

2) Pour the "flour" - saving just a little back for step 3 - into a food processor adding the remaining ingredients. Process until a dark sticky ball is created.

3) Remove the ball from the processor and lay it out on a flat surface ready for rolling out. This is where you may need to use the flour you held back from step 2 as it might stick to the surface or rolling pin! So lightly coat the board you are rolling on or the mixture itself in a fine dusting of flour and then roll out into a flat dough.

4) Using gingerbread men-shaped cookie cutters, cut out your men and either leave plain or decorate, according to your preference. Once finished, you can either eat as a "fresh" version which will be juicy and slightly chewy, or you can move to step 5 where you'll need a dehydrator...

5) Lay your men out on your dehydrator tray. No protective sheeting is required as the mixture isn't runny. Depending on how crunchy you want your men (!), dehydrate anything from a few hours to 24 hours. The full 24 hours at 100 degrees F will give you crunchy men, so long as they are no more than 5mm thick when they go in to dry.

By following this recipe you'll have gingerbread men ready to go in just minutes if you opt for the fresh version. As this is my first conscious foray into making creative raw food for kids, next time around as I tweak the recipe I'll be experimenting with raisin "buttons", chocolate "icing" and goji berry clothing!


* If your child doesn't like this recipe (but does like commercial gingerbread men), try making it using a different shaped cookie cutter, or adding decorations, or mixing their favourite raw ingredients in. My experience suggests that kids eat as much, if not more so with their eyes than their mouths! So be prepared to do things a little more differently than you would do for yourself.

* Try tasting them at all different stages of dehydration to see which one you prefer. My favourite is "almost fully dry with just a little bit of softness in the middle." (Make of that what you will!)

10 July, 2009

A Simple, Inexpensive Method to Improve Your Health

How do we break the inflammation cycle and encourage the body to operate at a heightened level of efficiency?

Toxic substances stimulate the immune system to go into action. These substances can range from foreign chemicals to bacteria, viruses, fungus, or parasites.

The immune system’s response to toxins generates free radicals which create inflammation throughout the body. A healthy body can clear this inflammation in a short period of time. However, our day to day food, lifestyle, and environmental milieu hammers on our bodies. These assaults erode the efficiency of the body's anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Thus, inflammation builds up in various parts of the body leading to a degeneration of health and vigor.

Throughout the history of natural medicine, cleansing has been a mainstay - or at least beginning - for optimizing health. A variety of techniques have been used, for instance:

★ Fasting.
★ Modified fasting using fruit and vegetable juices.
★ Eating raw foods.
★ Following a mucus-less diet.
★ Supporting the blood and liver in their cleansing activities.
★ Using herbs, plant fiber, or salt water to purge the colon.
★ Colonics
★ Enemas.
★ Charcoal.
★ Stimulating the kidneys.
★ Sitting in a room or shelter which encourages profuse sweating.
★ Application of hot and/or cold water baths.

From the Aruvedic tradition of India comes yet another tool to add to this arsenal: oil pulling. It is mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita, where it is called Kavala Gandoosha or Kavala Graha. It has been brought to the attention of modern practitioners by a Dr. F. Karach. He presented oil pulling in a paper before a meeting of oncologists and bacteriologists belonging to the Academy of Science of the USSR.

Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy for strengthening teeth, gums, and jaws. It helps to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, dryness of the throat, and cracked lips. It is also used to reduce enamel wear from stomach acid in hangovers and bulimics.

Other systems of the body benefit from oil pulling as well. Dr. Karach lists these examples of ailments which are alleviated by oil pulling:

★ head-aches.
★ bronchitis.
★ tooth pain.
★ thrombosis.
★ eczema.
★ ulcers.
★ diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, and lungs.
★ women’s diseases.
★ diseases of nerves.
★ paralysis.
★ encephalitis.
★ prevents the growth of malignant tumors, cuts and heals them.
★ chronic sleeplessness.

The procedure is simple, inexpensive, and uses readily available ingredients. First thing in the morning (and before meals, on an empty stomach), oil is swished around in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, then spit out. That is all there is to it. No fancy equipment or complicated techniques are required.

Cold pressed sesame oil is regarded as the best oil for this use. Extra Virgin coconut oil or Sunflower oil also comes highly recommended. If these are not available, you may try refined oils or another pure vegetable oil that does not have genetically modified sources. However, oils other than sesame or sunflower have not been shown to be as effective.

Sesame oil is derived from the plant Sesamum indicum of the Pedaliaceae family. The seeds of the plant are known as benne, 'gingelly' or 'teel'. It is often used for cooking and as a flavor enhancer in Indian, Chinese, Korean, and to a lesser extent Southeast Asian cuisine. Due to the natural antioxidants present in the oil, it is least prone among cooking oils with high smoke points (its average smoke point is 420°F) to turn rancid when kept at room temperature. Still refrigeration is recommended for optimum freshness.

Sesame , one of the first crops processed for oil, is considered the queen of the oil seed crops because of its nutritional qualities and many desirable health effects. Few people have allergic reactions to sesame. If you have a mild allergic reaction, try a different brand of oil, as manufacturing practices vary from one to another.

Sesame oil has a high concentration (41 percent) of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is a good source of vitamin E. Among six edible plant oils tested, sesame oil had the highest antioxidant content. The antioxidants present in it are mainly sesamol, sesamin, and sesamolin. Sesamin has been found to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol as well as limiting cholesterol production in the liver. It reduces the formation of fat cells and acts to lower blood pressure. Sesame oil is said to generally fortify the constitution during recuperation from severe or prolonged illness.

As with most plant based condiments, sesame oil contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B6. Copper provides support for the nerves which regulate heart beat and provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis. Magnesium supports muscle, blood vessel, and respiratory health. Calcium helps prevent colon cancer, osteoporosis, migraine and PMS. Zinc promotes bone health.

Sesame seed oil helps joints keep their flexibility.

Keeping the skin supple and soft, sesame oil has multiple uses in skin care. It heals and protects areas of mild scrapes, cuts and abrasions. It helps tighten facial skin, particularly around the nose, controlling the usual enlargement of pores as skin ages chronologically.

In The Green Pharmacy, the prominent herbalist James Duke states that sesame contains at least seven pain-relieving compounds. Thus, sesame may also have some power as an analgesic.

In lab cultures, sesame seed oil inhibited the growth of malignant melanoma - a skin cancer (Prostaglandin Leukatrines and Essential Fatty Acids 46: 145-150, 1992) and replication of human colon cancer cells (Anti Cancer Research 11: 209-216, 1992).

Two scientific studies indicate the effect of oil pulling against specific bacteria in the mouth cavity. Streptococcus mutans, which reportedly causes dental caries, was measured. Subjects swished sesame oil in their mouths for ten minutes a day. Within a week, bacterial counts in the mouth were significantly lowered.

The mouth contains many blood vessels quite close to the surface. When food is thoroughly chewed, it mixes with saliva which contains a large number of enzymes. Many nutrients are absorbed through the buccal tissue (tissues inside the mouth) before food descends to the stomach. In fact, with enough chewing, forty percent of carbohydrate digestion takes place in the mouth. Thus, the beneficial effects of the sesame oil can be transmitted to the body, without swallowing it. While some controversy exists about whether molecules can be passed through these membranes into the mouth, there is a sense in which oil pulling may remove toxins from the body.

Oil, which is composed of fat molecules, is a medium which is very absorbent. The fat in your body stores certain vitamins, excess hormones, and many toxic chemicals.

Sesame oil is reputed to penetrate the skin easily, and is used in India for oil massage. Sesame seed oil absorbs quickly and penetrates through the tissues to the very marrow of the bone. It enters into the blood stream through the capillaries and circulates. The liver does not sweep sesame seed oil molecules from the blood, accepting those molecules as friendly. Oil soluble toxins are attracted to sesame seed oil molecules which can then be washed away. These same properties may take place in the buccal tissues during oil pulling.

Here is the oil pulling procedure, step by step:

Step 1: First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, and before drinking any liquids (including water), pour exactly one tablespoon of sesame or sunflower oil into your mouth. Use one teaspoon for children old enough to be able to swish it without swallowing it – most sources suggest an age of five. If you wear dentures, oil pulling is done with the dentures out of your mouth. Some people choose to accelerate oil pulling’s effects by swishing two or three times a day. It should be done before meals or several hours after a meal, on an empty stomach.

Step 2: Swish the oil around in your mouth without swallowing it for about twenty minutes. Move it around in your mouth and through your teeth. Sip and suck it through the teeth. Use a gentle chewing motion from time to time. Don't tilt your head back to gargle. Keep swishing. If your cheek or jaw muscles get sore while swishing, you are putting too much effort into it. Relax your jaw muscles and use your tongue to help move the liquid around the inside of your mouth. When you do this correctly, you will feel very comfortable. Pretty soon, it will become second nature. You will find that the oil starts to get watery in the first ten minutes, as your saliva mixes with it.

Step 3: As the end of the oil pulling session approaches, the oil/saliva mixture in your mouth becomes thicker. This is quite normal, since it is pulling out toxins from your body. When 20 minutes are up, spit out the oil into the commode. It is best if you do not spit into the sink. Do not be alarmed if it looks yellow or whitish – this also is normal.

Step 4: Rinse out your mouth a couple of times with warm water or with a good mouthwash and spit into the commode. I prefer to rinse and spit with regular hydrogen peroxide diluted half and half with water (or use full strength). Once again, do not swallow. The hydrogen peroxide is very effective in rinsing out any toxins or organisms which may be left in the mouth.

Step5: Brush your teeth. Use a damp toothbrush with a small amount of baking soda. A small amount goes a long way and minimizes the abrasive effect of the baking soda. The baking soda will normalize the pH of the mouth.

Sesame oil has the following advantages over the standard and commercially available mouthwashes: it causes no staining, has no lingering aftertaste, and causes no allergic reactions. It is five to six times more cost-effective than the commercially available mouthwashes and is, moreover, readily available in the household.

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